The nightmare of moving
Everybody loves a good ghost story and tonight Songbirds (Radio 4, FM 97.6) begins a four-part drama called Jill Came Tumbling After. The story revolves around a haunted house on Peng Chau.
The drama begins with the Lee family about to move from their small flat in Kowloon to a large house on Peng Chau. On the day they are moving, a No 1 typhoon signal is hoisted. Despite the approaching storm, Mr Lee decides to go ahead with the move.
On the ferry to Peng Chau, the typhoon worsens and on landing the removal men announce that they cannot deliver the goods that day. There is a lull in the storm and Mr Lee decides to walk with his family up the hill to their new house. But, by the time they get to the top of the hill, the rain has started again and the storm is getting much worse. Finally they reach the door of their new home but Mr Lee cannot find the keys. He is desperate. But then something very strange happens - eight-year-old Bonnie suddenly produces the keys. But who gave them to her? Bonnie has a very strange story to tell.
Below is the opening part of tonight's Songbirds drama for you to read either before or while listening to the programme.
Mother: Do you think we should tell the removal men not to come?
Father: No, it will be okay.
Mother: But what if it suddenly gets worse ... and we're on the ferry to Peng Chau!
Father: They say the typhoon is moving slowly and, if a signal goes up, it will only be a No 1 and that will be much later tonight.
Mother: I think we should postpone ... I've got an uneasy feeling.
Father: It's not even raining! Margaret, listen, I've just phoned the removal men and they're on their way. They say the typhoon is too far away to stop the job. Now relax.
Mother: Why did this wretched typhoon have to happen today of all days?
Father: Don't worry about it, Margaret. By the time the typhoon comes ... if it does come ... we'll be nicely settled into our new home and we can sit around the table and play cards and have a bit of family fun.
Bonnie: Daddy, is the typhoon coming?
Father: Don't worry, Bonnie, we've got plenty of time. The typhoon is moving very, very slowly and by the time it comes, we'll all be safe in our new house.
Bonnie: But what if it comes when we're on the ferry? The boat might turn over and we'll all fall into the sea!
Sidney: And Bonnie can't swim!
Angela: And all our things will float away.
Mother: Angela, you're too old now to be saying such silly things.
Sidney: It'll be great ... the boat will go right up and then fall down and then go right up again!
Angela: Stop it, Sidney, you're making me feel sea-sick!
Bonnie: Will there be a big storm at sea, daddy?
Father: No, of course, there won't be, Bonnie. The typhoon is hundreds of miles away. I think it's still hanging about in the Philippines. If it comes it won't reach us till much later, tomorrow night probably, so stop worrying, all of you.
Mother: Now children, when the removal men come, try and keep out of their way. Angela, maybe they can empty your room first then you can take Bonnie and Joey in there and keep them occupied.
Father: Margaret, are we taking this lamp-stand with us?
Father: It's horrible. Why don't we throw it away?
Mother: Because my mother gave it to us as a wedding present, that's why.
Father: Oh, I see.
Bonnie: Daddy, when will we arrive at the new house?
Dad: Well, Bonnie, when the removal men have finished, we'll catch a couple of taxis down to the outlying islands ferry pier and then we'll catch the ferry to Peng Chau.
Sidney: Is it a big house, dad?
Dad: Oh, yes. Much bigger than here. And it's on a hill.
Now listen to the rest of the Songbirds drama and answer these questions:
1. When the typhoon gets worse, why can't the Lee family return to their flat in Kowloon?
a) There are no more ferries
b) They do not have the keys
c) Mr Lee refuses to go back
d) Another family has already moved in
2. As the Lee family are climbing the hill to their new home, Bonnie thinks she sees ...
a) a strange old lady
b) a big snake
c) a pack of wild dogs
d) a girl with no face
You can listen to Songbirds repeats on Saturdays at 5.30pm. Past Songbirds scripts and programmes can be accessed at www.rthk.org.hk and they are free for classroom use by English teachers.
Answers: 1. b; 2. b